Wondering whether you're getting enough sleep each night to maximize your gains from the gym?
There are many factors that go into determining your success at building strength and muscle mass in the gym.
These could include things like your training program, your diet, your stress levels, etc.
And one of the most commonly overlooked or neglected ones has to be sleep.
It's one of those things that many of us are all taught as children, but gradually lose touch with as our lives get busier and our scope of responsibilities increases with growing up.
We start having more homework to do, more people that we need to spend time with, and just more stuff that we have to do throughout our days.
It was found in a CDC survey that 1 in 3 US adults regularly do not get enough sleep.
However although so many of us neglect it, sleep is extremely important. Especially in the context of wanting to build muscle and see results in the gym.
In this article I'm going to break down why sleep is so important for muscle growth, and then help you draw a conclusion as to how many hours of sleep you should be getting each night.
Let's get started.
Why is Sleep So Important for Muscle Growth?
Getting enough sleep is important for a number of reasons.
Sleeping More Promotes Fat Loss and Preserves Muscle Mass
The first reason you should get more sleep is the fact that sleep promotes fat loss and muscle preservation, helping with body recompositions and transformations.
Your body needs a chance to do its job after you've done all your hard work in the gym, and the best time for it to do that is during your sleep.
To support this idea, a study conducted by Arlet V Nedeltcheva and the American College of Physicians split a pool of subjects into two smaller groups.
Both groups were to be put on a caloric deficit plan for two weeks, and overall fat loss/muscle preservation was to be assessed.
The difference was that one group would sleep 8 and a half hours each night, which is comfortably in the range of what most experts recommend to be the optimal amount of sleep. Let's call this Group A.
On the other hand, the other group would get just 5 and a half hours of sleep each night, which is not only detrimentally low, but also quite similar to what many adults seem to be getting in today's society. Let's call this Group B.
The results were surprising, with Group A (getting 8.5 hours of sleep) losing 55% more fat and preserving 60% more muscle mass compared to that of Group B.
Subjects from both groups did lose the same amount of weight, but it came in different forms, with getting more sleep promoting more fat loss and less muscle breakdown.
So if you want to burn off more fat and maintain more of your muscle mass doing so, aim to get more sleep.
Getting More Sleep Improves Workout Performance
Another big point for getting more sleep is the fact that it's going to allow you to train harder and more efficiently in the gym, causing more gains over time.
We've said this a million times, and we'll say it again.
In order to see real results in the gym and get to where you want to be, you have to be prepared to train hard and face a little bit of discomfort.
However if you aren't getting enough sleep, your ability to train hard is going to diminish quickly, you're going to get tired much earlier and you're not going to be able to provide your body with the same kind of stimulus for muscle growth.
Let's say for example you had a couple of nights in a row with poor sleep, and you tried to head into the gym to lift weights.
You might find that weights you've easily hit in the past become more of a struggle now, and that you don't feel nearly as strong as you've been in the past.
This isn't going to have too much of an impact on your gains if it only happens every once in a while, but it will quickly add up to a lot of lost gains if you consistently lack sleep and have to compromise your workout as a result.
Impaired Workout Performance Can Also Increase Chance of Injury
On top of this, a decrease in your workout performance can lead to and increase in your chances of getting injured, especially if you like to lift heavy.
If you constantly lack sleep and try to lift heavy, you can run the risk of trying to lift heavy weights that you've hit in the past, but aren't strong enough to do so at the moment due to a lack of sleep.
A sudden slip in your form here or there can lead to some pretty bad injuries if you're not careful.
Not Getting Enough Sleep Can Reduce Motivation and Confidence
Sleep deprivation affects your training would be the decrease in your motivation to train and work hard.
You know the feeling, when you wake up one morning after a bad night's sleep and just do not feel like doing anything at all.
This lack of sleep can quickly cause you to see some big drops in workout consistency, workout intensity and overall training motivation if you're not able to manage it properly.
This can quickly deplete your ability to see gains and see progress in the gym, further impacting your motivation and will to train hard.
You don't want to fall into this trap.
Sleep Deprivation Can Lead to Decreased Testosterone Levels
Lastly, a lack of proper sleep can also lead to a decrease in testosterone levels, a very important hormone that affects your ability to build muscle and strength.
This study conducted by Rachel Leproult found that even just a single week of sleep deprivation at 5 hours a night could lead to a 10-15% decrease in the testosterone levels of young men.
Remember, testosterone is an extremely important hormone for building strength, muscle mass and growing your body.
If you're not getting enough sleep and are compromising your body's testosterone levels, you're inevitably going to impact your ability to see progress and gains from your hard work in the gym.
Now that you know the effects that sleep deprivation can have on your training, it's time to determine just how much sleep you should be getting each night.
So How Much Sleep Should You be Getting?
Well, we know we're all different and that different people are going to require varying amounts of sleep.
However, the general consensus is that you should be getting between 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
After conducting thorough research, this is the range that the vast majority of experts recommended, although some studies such as this one by Y Chen did recommend 7-8 hours of sleep each night, claiming that no extra benefits came with getting more than that.
The more active you are and the more tired you are throughout the day, the more sleep you're going to need. If this sounds like you, try to aim for the higher ends of the range (so closer to 9 hours).
Experiment with everything if you can, see how you fare with getting 7 hours of sleep a night, and see how you go with getting closer to hours a night!
You'll be able to pick out the best option for you and see what really works best for you.
Then you can make a judgement from there.
Overall, sleep is a heavily neglected factor when it comes to building muscle and seeing progress in the gym, but it's extremely important and it's necessary that you not only learn why you need it, but how much of it you should be getting.
Doing this is going to allow you to maximize your sleep and maximize your gains from all the hard work you're doing in the gym.
I hope you've learnt something from this post and have enjoyed reading through it!
If you did, remember to share it with your friends so that we can reach more people and help more reach their goals in fitness!
Are you currently getting enough sleep?
Let us know down in the comments section below!